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November 30, 2017

What a Great Week

This week had a lot of planning involved for next week. We decided that we are going to go to 16th st mall with all the missionaries in the stake as well as all the youth we can gather on the 2nd and do some caroling and hand out light the world cards, so we decided that we would meet at our building downtown at 5 and go from there... Being young and just out of high school we figured that's all it would take, but then the questions started flooding in: "what about the city, are they okay with that big of a group at 16th street?" "Our ward mission leader wants to hear from the stake presidency that this is approved." "People are upset that this is last minute." and "How are we going to get there from the grant building (our downtown building)?" And these are all wonderful questions. I just didn't know that they were going to pop up so we have had a lot of calls and preparations to make this last week. But its been tons of fun. We've been able to continue on with our plans and make the arrangements necessary to make this now called "event" happen. 
    Thanksgiving this week was a much needed day for many missionaries. We were able to spend a little bit more time around members and talk to them about the building of the ward and how we can be of the most help and support. One of the coolest things to see this time of year is the praise and thanks that people give to God that they normally would not give... as if God is only watching and helping us this time of year.  And the goal as missionaries is to help people see that this is a feeling of peace and hope that they can feel all year round for the rest of their lives. Christ can be a part of us all the time no matter where we are and that is one of the biggest blessings to have. I hope that all of us can see how to be more spiritual throughout this season but then to also see how to become more spiritual once this season passes. 
     We had a pretty fun dinner last night where the member we were going to eat with invited 3 of our investigators as well and I don't know that I've been to such a lively dinner before. Everyone was talking, investigators were sharing past life stories, we shared a message, the food was great, the member asked a question that led to our investigator keith talking about when he attempted suicide and then he changed his life after that and now his main goal is to love and serve God. There were just a lot of interesting stories shared at that table last night. But the cool part was that because we were in a Christ centered home the spirit took over even in the hearts and minds of the investigators. There were such tender moments when people would all of the sudden notice what they were feeling to be the spirit and they would express their desire to feel that more often! I love being able to be a part of so many different peoples lives while they make these critical decisions in their lives to follow Christ and give up portions of their worldly habits to give place for holy habits and righteous routines. 

I know that Christ is at the head of everything we do as long as we are listening to the spirit. The spirit will not lead us astray. I love you all so much and I pray that you may stay strong through anything that may be thrown your way.

Love, Elder Cluff

It's a Great Day to be Alive

I love being able to serve right now as a missionary and especially under the direction of President Savage and Sister Savage. I feel that they are trying to prepare us for when we get home way more than they are trying to prepare us for right now. I have felt a sincere desire from them to bless our entire lives not just our missions. And right now it is so much fun to serve because God is trying extra hard to sharpen His tools (us) and give them every possible aid to push the work along. Light the World is coming up soon and we will all be able to participate in spreading the light of Christ that way. The biggest goal for us as missionaries is to get people to go watch the video on mormon.org on their own devices so that they know somewhere to go where they can get true and unchanging truths about the Gospel and Church of Jesus Christ.   
       Something cool that happened this week was the young single adult face to face last night. I thought something that they said was really neat. I can't remember who said this but they said "I will not let my sexuality interfere with my spirituality." now before you judge my email and stop reading because I said the word sexuality, think about replacing that word with any portion of your life that could possibly compete with your spirituality. This is something that will be different for everyone. There was a time in my life where I had to decide that my recreational activities would not interfere with my spirituality. There have been times on the mission where i have had to make sure that my natural man and tired body didn't interfere with my spirituality. Whatever it may been that is getting in the way for us, we need to make sure that we make that decision to choose spirituality first. This does not mean we must forsake and abandon our entire lives, that is not at all what I am saying. We need to be proud of what we do and share it with others, but we also need to make sure that our own choices and ways of living do not interfere with how deeply the spirit can touch us and trust us. 

Honestly I don't have a ton to say this week. I'm just not really coming up with much in my head. Hopefully even though it was short you will still be able to find Joy in the Spirit this week as you reflect upon what may be keeping you from feeling the spirit more. 

Love you all!
Love, Elder Cluff

November 14, 2017

A Fun Filled Week

So this week we were able to go on some exchanges which were fun and we were able to do some fun service projects as well as we were able to teach a bunch of lessons and meet a lot of people!! It was a grand time. But the best part was that we had a zone conference with Elder Wilford Andersen and his wife. I felt the true inspiration that he brought to our mission and I felt that he had truly searched out to find out what we needed to hear. One of my favorite things that he told us was something like, "Do not soft pedal the truths of the Gospel. You are on solid ground when you teach truth." And for me I know that simple phrase changed my mindset when I teach. I now sense the importance of telling people things as they really are. President Savage says something similar a lot. He says, "We can't do the Lord's work in the Devils way," meaning that we can't coerce people into doing what we want. We cannot use our own charisma to bring to pass salvation in others lives or our own. We cannot begin to bribe or cheat or lie our way through sharing the gospel. The only way that God intends for us to spread His Gospel is by sharing it, but we have to share it plainly without sugarcoating. The Gospel of Jesus Christ is already enough, is it not? In 3 Nephi 27 Christ states a couple times that He has given us His gospel, and I wrote next to that "so go and do!" because I think we over complicate things so often and it makes us look down upon ourselves when that is not necessary. God just wants us to try harder today than yesterday. He wants us to live righteously and do our best. It sounds so easy when we just say it but then we go out and put it to the test and all the sudden we find ourselves over complicating things again. Here is an example from this week. We had an investigator who started going to a food bank to get food and the food bank that he chose is where we do service once a week with the missionaries in the next ward over. And at service last week after we left, the other missionaries talked to our investigator and committed him to go to church and have a lesson with them. Now they had no idea that he was our investigator or that he didn't live in their area so i don't blame them at all. He ended up going to church with them and then having a lesson with them right after church which is when they found out that he was our investigator. The church meetings and lesson went great and now they had a choice to make. The other missionaries could either make it a huge deal and think that they now have to keep teaching him and do a pass-off lesson and whatnot, and maybe even call president and ask him what they should do... or they could simply let us know and then we could just tell Keith (the investigator) that there was a mistake and that we would continue to teach him because we are literally the same church.  Now I won't say which one the missionaries did but that is just the only example I could think of without embarrassing myself because I am one of the worst at over complicating things sometimes. I'm not sure how applicable you can make this in your own everyday lives. For all I know I might be the only one who finds myself over complicating things a lot but I'm sure the Holy Ghost can tell you something cool while you read this either way. 

I hope you all have a fantastic week! 
I love you all!
Love, Elder Cluff 

November 10, 2017

Learning to Live After the Manner of Happiness

I feel like the last few months i have been telling myself week to week that the next week will be less busy with less meetings and I will be able to get out and do more stuff in our area, but i have come to realize that the thought of being less busy next week is indeed false. Something President said about 6 weeks ago has started to ring very true in my mind. He talked about how busy things are getting and how we are starting to ask more of the missionaries which means that we will have to start using our time more efficiently. For example, when the previous normal amount of finding hours in a week was around 40 or so, we will now be down around 20 and we will still be finding the same amount of people because we will rely on the spirit more and put more effort into sharpening our skills so that the spirit can use us better. Now I was not writing this to show you how busy we are, but rather to show you that maybe being busy isn't a bad thing. We simply have to use what little time we do have more wisely and efficiently. I never understood before now the rush that Dad always had when working and getting a job done when the only thing he had to look forward to was another job after that. This mindset that my father has is not something that I could understand until I understood the purpose of this life, Alma 34:32 states, "For behold, this life is the time for men to prepare to meet God; yea, behold the day of this life is the day for men to perform their labors."
After reading this scripture and pondering it for the last year in the back of my mind I realized that the mindset my Dad has is one of Christlike willingness to work. There have been several times this week where I thought we were going to be way too busy to get everything done that we needed to, but without fail God always made a way as long as we were willing to put in the work that He expected of us. We had our stake conference on sunday and something that President Krumholz (our stake president) said really caught my attention. He asked us if we are only being obedient to be obedient? or if our obedience comes from willingness and a love for God? This made me think a whole lot harder about my own spiritual journey and where I am at. I think that for the most part all of the people I teach are more willing at times to be obedient than I am because this is new to them and they have to truly choose to take this obedience into their hearts, but for me I feel like a lot of the time I am just being obedient because I have been told that it will bring blessings. But after yesterday I believe my desire to be obedient has already changed. I want to be obedient because I love my God. I love this Gospel and what it brings to my life even when life is hard and I know that God is always there. God does not leave us behind. That is the entire reason why He sent his son... John 3:16 "For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life."
Please, take your leap of faith and believe on Him!!

We have had tons of people lately who have been willing to meet and talk to us but they just don't want to know for themselves. They think our testimonies are great and they love going to their church but they do not care to grow closer to Christ if it feels uncomfortable to take the next step. I would plead with you to not fall into this trap that satan has created of comfort and ease. As my brother David would always say, "This Gospel is a Gospel of transformation," which means that we continually grow closer to Christ. Some of the people that I was talking about are members of our faith but instead of continually growing closer to their Savior they begin to relax and think that they are at a good place to rest for a while. This is the opposite of the mindset that my Dad has. I am convinced that my dad will never stop laboring with his hands and his spirit, even until the day that he dies. I hope to obtain the same mindset as him so that I will never stop growing physically and spiritually just as my dad has never stopped. I am so grateful for the example that I have had from immediate family members as well as so many others that have played a part in my life. If you do not feel that you have an example to look towards then take king Benjamin's invitation from Mosiah 2:41 and look around at those who are keeping the commandments and you will see that they are the happiest and most joyful, and then simply follow their examples even if you are doing it from afar at first. You will notice a change in your life and you will notice a change in the lives of those with whom you associate. 

God loves you and so do I

Love, Elder Cluff 

October 31, 2017

A Gift From Heaven

I loved Elder Hollands talk in conference where he states that "our only hope for true perfection is in receiving it as a gift from heaven- we cannot earn it." This quote has given me much food for thought and as i have thought about it I have started to reflect on gifts that I got as a child. I started to think about how when I wanted a gift from my parents I would oh so sneakily say something like, "Mom, doesn't that bike look really cool?" because then obviously she would now want to have the bike just as badly, and I'll tell you what, it worked almost every time... as long as I had enough money to pay for it. But that's obviously not what the word "gift" means right? So what about the times where I got a true gift from my parents? These things were always very special to me. That is one definition of my own for the word gift. Looking back though, i feel like I kind of earned those gifts. I mean i was a good kid, i did my chores almost half the time and i tried to do the dishes without complaining more than ten times, so didn't I deserve that new set of pajamas on Christmas eve? NO, not at all. Sure I might have tried harder to be good the last 3 days before Christmas but in no way did I really deserve to get more than what my parents were already giving me. God has given us our entire lives and everything that we do in our lives and we think that after all of that, that maybe we deserve a gift, an increase, something more because we are now bored of last years gifts. That is not how this works. Until now I honestly kinda had it in my head that I did deserve those gifts because I was a semi good kid and my parents were my parents. But in reality, I never did deserve more than they already gave me. I probably didn't even deserve that! But everything that my parents gave me was truly out of a profound love that they had for me, and all my Mom and Dad asked me to do was small insignificant tasks that would show and build my love for them. This is all that our Father in heaven asks for as well. He asks that we show our love for Him and His Son by keeping His holy commandments (see john 15:15). God will give us gifts more abundantly the more we serve and love Him but His gifts are still given through His perfect love for us, His children. I hope that i may love and serve God with all my heart, not so that I can earn His gifts, but so that I may become more worthy of them. I love my Father in Heaven and I love Jesus Christ. "Jesus Christ is my Lord and Savior and my friend, is He yours?" 

I love you all and I love this work!
Love, Elder Cluff

October 24, 2017

Transfer Week

So first off, I am staying in my area with the same companion which hasn't happened since my first area haha so I'm pretty excited! The biggest goal for this next transfer is really getting on top of all the assignments that have been given to us and then on top of that we have been promised that if we work harder and longer than the rest of the zone then we will find so much fruit that we cannot even handle the teaching load. But as for things that have happened this week, we have had a lot of fun with the zone while getting ready for and organizing transfers. For the most part our zone stayed the same and we are super happy with that. We only have one new missionary here this transfer and his trainer is one of the best missionaries. I love being able to see new missionaries and remember the way I felt when I first got here and know that they are feeling very similar. It has been one of the coolest experiences to see how much greater the faith of new missionaries is than even the faith of some who have been out here the longest. These Elders and Sisters have come out on fire and they are just full to the brim with faith filled courage. I hope that I can learn from them rather than dampen their excitement and faith by telling them about the worldly things rather than what Christ can do. 
    This week we had a lot of time spent doing needed service for the zone like picking up bikes and luggage, moving around cars, getting lost bags where they need to be, getting missionaries to interviews, and many other various activities that took time away from us being out with the people who we need to talk to, and so Elder LaPerle and I made the goal this week to simply be out more and put off the mindset of "well [insert name of Elders] need us to use the truck to move their bikes to another companionship so we better do that now because we are just walking around right now." Because really when we are out even just walking around a park or knocking on doors, there's a better chance that we will fulfill our missionary purpose doing that than driving around. 
     On Saturday night we had a "Zone Leader Sleepover" at the Savages house and it was a ton of fun but it was also just a super spiritual meeting and we were able to talk about how to uplift the mission. President had us read a few things from the Mission Presidents Handbook which was also really cool because we got to see some of what the first presidency has in mind for us. The coolest part about this weekend though was that we just felt like we were on a spiritual high the entire time. We had that meeting saturday night and then we had magnificent church meetings with great lessons and then we went to the same fireside as last sunday but this sunday it was in the north half of the mission and there were different speakers and what not, and so it was all around just a wonderful weekend filled with the spirit and I know that other people were touched as well through that same converting spirit. 
   My favorite quote from conference is "look beyond what you see" because I think that is something we have to do often, just like the blind man who Christ healed. He wasn't able to see anything at all but when he looked beyond what he could physically see it was then apparent to him how much faith he had in Christ, and that Christ the son of God could heal him of any physical ailment. I hope to be able to do the same and look beyond my physical weakness to reveal to myself the spiritual strength I have and then to also be able to look beyond others outward appearances so that I may be the means by which they can be blessed by Heavenly Father. Please take a look at your life today and then take a look deeper into your life beyond what you can see and find the blessings that God has given you and the beauty that each and every one of you have in your hearts and in your spirits. 

I love you all!!
Love, Elder Cluff 

October 17, 2017

Convert Fireside

Okay so something really cool that happened just yesterday was the "why I believe" fireside put on by the mission in order to let some recent converts share their testimonies and lift our spirits as well as the spirits of members all over the mission. It was such a spirit filled meeting where the whole mission sang as the choir, 4 recent converts shared their story and testimony, and we also got to hear a few musical numbers from other missionaries and a few words from president savage as well. It was amazing the way music when done with the right spirit can bring such a spirit to the room. The entire mission sang a special arrangement of "this is the Christ" as well as a special arrangement of "we'll bring the world his truth."  (not the EFY medley) and during both of these numbers you could sense the testimony and conviction within the voices that sang them (even if it was voices like mine). My favorite was "this is the Christ" because I decided that as we sang i wanted to imagine Christ in the meeting as if we were singing because he had appeared. This enhanced and uplifted my experience while singing and brought to my heart a conviction of the Savior and His love for us. 
   My Email this week will be short, because I mainly just want to share with you the Love I have for my Savior and how He has changed my life. We often times think that if we grew up in the church then when we meet those that haven't we should automatically jump to our "personal conversion" story that every one of us has. But something I have come to realize is that when people ask if I have grown up in the church I ought to shout for joy and say "YES!! And do you know how good that was for my life?" and then I could continue to tell them of how the gospel and church shaped my life and made me the person I am today. I am so proud and happy to say that I was born in the Church. Christ has been shaping me through the gospel and church since I was a baby, and it has changed my life. My faith in Christ has carried me through anything and everything that has been hard or unwanted in my life. This last week I have had temporary arthritis in my left knee and it doesn't feel too grand when I walk but I am proud to say that Christ has strengthened me enough that I could go out and work every single day just as hard and as long as I would without the arthritis. One day we even played soccer with some kids and i was able to play without pain. I may have had less mobility, but there wasn't pain which was a miracle that day in my life! God is not absent today, and He never will be. There are so many people who think they are without God in their lives and this is not true. God is always there but he can't help us any more than the amount we allow Him. The nice part is that we don't have to do much more than simply reach out in order to allow Him to help us more. I hope we will all continually reach out a little further for God and His helping hand in our lives. I can promise that He is there because I am a witness of His love and mercy, I am a witness of the literal help that Christ can offer and the true friend that Christ can be to us. 

I love you all!
Love, Elder Cluff